EFF drops Gi­gaba bomb­shell over Gup­tas’ cit­i­zen­ship

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - QUIN­TON MTYALA, DO­MINIC ADRIAANSE AND NONI MOKATI

THE HAWKS say they have not re­ceived any in­struc­tions to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions that Malusi Gi­gaba per­son­ally granted the Gup­tas per­ma­nent cit­i­zen­ship in South Africa, de­spite their ap­pli­ca­tions be­ing turned down.

This came as the EFF yes­ter­day re­leased a let­ter it claimed was proof that Gi­gaba had, while he was the home af­fairs min­is­ter, flouted the coun­try’s im­mi­gra­tion laws to ac­com­mo­date the Gup­tas’ ap­pli­ca­tion for per­ma­nent res­i­dency af­ter they had failed the re­quire­ments.

“At the mo­ment, the is­sue rests with the SAPS. The SAPS has to con­tact the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity and look at the le­gal im­pli­ca­tions of the is­sue. And based on the crim­i­nal pri­or­ity of the mat­ter, the act­ing na­tional com­mis­sioner will de­cide on the fi­nal out­come,” said Hawks spokesper­son Bri­gadier Hang­wani Mu­laudzi last night.

The Hawks have so far con­firmed that they had opened an in­quiry into the au­then­tic­ity of the leaked Gupta emails, which have detailed var­i­ous in­ci­dents of the po­lit­i­cally con­nected fam­ily’s med­dling in the gov­ern­ment and paras­tatals and the award­ing of ten­ders.

Yes­ter­day, the EFF said it would chal­lenge in court the grant­ing of cit­i­zen­ship to five mem­bers of the Gupta fam­ily in May 2015.

In a let­ter dated Jan­uary 22, 2015 from the Depart­ment of Home Af­fairs, the ap­pli­ca­tion for nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion was re­jected. Ac­cord­ing to the let­ter, the five had jointly ap­plied to be nat­u­ralised as South African cit­i­zens on June 3, 2013, but ac­cord­ing to “GG Hlatshwayo”, writ­ing on be­half of Home Af­fairs Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral Mkuseli Apleni, their ap­pli­ca­tion was re­jected.

The rea­son for the re­jec­tion was that they had not been phys­i­cally res­i­dent in South Africa con­tin­u­ously for five years and had spent more than 90 days out of the coun­try.

In the let­ter, the Gup­tas were told that they would qual­ify to make an­other ap­pli­ca­tion on De­cem­ber 23, 2015, pro­vided they had not ex­ceeded 90 days out­side South Africa for ev­ery year in the five years pre­ced­ing their ap­pli­ca­tion.

But four months af­ter the let­ter of re­jec­tion, Gi­gaba, who is now the fi­nance min­is­ter, per­son­ally ad­dressed a let­ter to “Mr AK Gupta”, stat­ing that af­ter “care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion”, their ap­pli­ca­tion had been ap­proved. “I have de­cided, by virtue of the pow­ers vested in me un­der sec­tion 5(9)a of the South African Cit­i­zen­ship Amend­ment Act, 2010… to waive the res­i­den­tial re­quire­ments in re­gard to your ap­pli­ca­tion for nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion and grant you early nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion,” wrote Gi­gaba.

In April last year, the DA’s spokesper­son on home af­fairs, Han­iff Hoosen, ques­tioned Gi­gaba in Par­lia­ment over the grant­ing of cit­i­zen­ship to the Gup­tas and whether there had been ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances.

In the cor­re­spon­dence re­ceived from the Depart­ment of Home Af­fairs in Oc­to­ber 2016, it stip­u­lates that un­der ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances the min­is­ter may grant a cer­tifi­cate of nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion to an ap­pli­cant who does not com­ply with the re­quire­ments.

The mo­ti­va­tion sub­mit­ted by the Gup­tas for these ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances cited their com­pany Oak­bay In­vest­ments and other in­ter­ests, with sup­port­ing doc­u­ments sub­mit­ted, in­clud­ing Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try com­pany reg­is­tra­tions.

The cor­re­spon­dence in­cludes that their ap­pli­ca­tion re­flects employment of about 7 000 em­ploy­ees, and that the Gupta fam­ily con­trib­uted to the South African econ­omy.

These ar­gu­ments were tabled as sig­nif­i­cant rea­son­ing to pro­vide sub­stan­tive grounds for con­sid­er­a­tion of their ap­pli­ca­tion for nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion un­der ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances as stip­u­lated in sec­tion 5(9) of the Cit­i­zen­ship Act.

“What is quite clear is that when­ever there is favourable treat­ment to­wards this fam­ily, cur­rent leg­is­la­tion has been used to hide any wrong­do­ing,” Hoosen said. He said any shred of proof of wrong­do­ing would war­rant the cit­i­zen­ship be­ing re­voked.

EFF spokesper­son Mbuyiseni Nd­lozi said they would chal­lenge Gi­gaba’s de­ci­sion in court over his “ir­ra­tional­ity”.

Nei­ther Gi­gaba nor his spokesper­son May­ihlome Tsh­wete could be reached for com­ment.

‘FLOUTED THE LAW’: Malusi Gi­gaba

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